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If you struggle with managing your finances each month, then you'll probably regard budgeting as a frustrating and complicating process. However, the truth is that it can be one of the most valuable things you do, too. Ultimately, the more you know about your spending habits, the easier it is to come up with a strategy that will help you to achieve your financial goals.

To help you change your opinion of budgeting this year, we've put together a list of helpful commandments that you can keep in mind as you explore your new financial strategy. 

1. Start with a Clear Objective

Budgeting just because you know you should, is rarely a good idea. Whether you're hoping to improve your financial awareness, or you simply want to save back some extra cash so you can afford a holiday in a couple of years, it pays to have a goal in mind. 

If you're budgeting as a couple, or with your family, make sure that everyone involved agrees on the same goal, or series of goals so that you can work together on the same page. The last thing you need is for everyone to have a different idea of the ideal budgeting target. 

 2. Prioritise Debt Repayments and Emergency Funds 

While having a goal is useful, there are some financial housekeeping issues that you'll need to address before you can start making any real progress towards your target. First of all, you're going to need to get rid of your debts as quickly as possible. Although it can seem frustrating to give your extra money away each month, it's important to remember that the quicker you pay off your debts, the less you'll have to pay in the long-term when it comes to interest. 

Additionally, once you've paid off your debts (or before if you choose), it's crucial to have an emergency fund in place that you can turn to if something goes wrong. If you or your partner ends up losing their job, or you find yourself having to pay out for a sudden unexpected cost, then your emergency fund will make sure that you have enough cash to make ends meet. Otherwise you may end up needing to take out a loan to tide you over. 

3. Make Maintenance Appointments with yourself

One thing that people frequently forget when they're budgeting is that their financial circumstances can change rapidly from one day to the next. That means that the budget you make today might not be relevant a month from now. To make sure that you're still making progress and reaching your targets, set appointments in your calendar where you'll go back and look over your budget with the whole family.

During this time, ask yourself whether anything has changed to your incoming or outgoing expenses, and reconsider your goal. Do you still want to accomplish the same thing? How much progress have you made so far? Do you think you deserve a reward for the hard work you've put in?

4. Make Space for Luxuries

A lot of budgeting articles tell you that you need to be able to separate the luxuries from the necessities so that you can start cutting down on your unnecessary expense. While it's true that you'll need to make some compromises to achieve your financial goals, it's also worth leaving some space in your spending habits for the occasional "luxury" item. Look for ways to get the things you want in life, without going over the top.

For instance, if you currently buy fast food every week, try to reduce to just once or twice a month instead. That way, you still get to enjoy the things you like, without overspending. 

5. Account for the one-Time Expenses

Remember, when you're planning your budget, don't just look at the regular things that you need to pay for every month. You'll also need to consider those once-off expenses, like car tax, insurance repayments, and even television licenses. Look for anything that you only pay for once or twice a year and make a note of all the bills. 

Once you know how much you need to save for your one-time expenses, break the bulk fee down into 12 monthly "payments" that you keep out of your savings account and monthly spend. This way, you'll be prepared when that often-forgotten letter comes to your door. 

6. Make Tracking Spending Easy

Finally, tracking spending is often the most-hated part of the budgeting experience, but it doesn't have to be as exhausting as you think. There's nothing wrong with making your life a little easier by downloading a piece of software or using an app on your phone that will automatically track your spending for you.

Using technology might make it easier to spot trends in your spending that will convince you to make better long-term changes. 


6 Helpful Commandments for Your New Budget
Digital Mag

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